49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 17, 2009
Raye backs Smith, says ideal offense now tilts toward the pass

Jimmy Raye media days always are interesting. It's as if he's the guru sitting cross-legged on the mountain top and we're the guys climbing up to seek his wisdom. Today, a few things stuck out from Raye's interview. First, I asked Raye whether the 49ers had seen enough from Alex Smith to say that he will be the quarterback in 2010.

Raye paused and smiled as he always does and asked, "Are you including me" in that decision-making process? It seemed as if Raye was saying that he wasn't sure whether he'd be back next season. I later asked him about this and he said he paused because he had been concentrating on finishing 2009 and hadn't thought much about 2010. But he said he was not contemplating stepping down from his position. As for Smith, Raye said that the quarterback would have to continue to win games, but that he expected him to do just that. "I would think that this organization -- that he would be the quarterback in 2010, yes," he said.

When the season began, Raye said that he was looking for a 60-40, run-to-pass ratio. Today he said the ideal ratio would tilt toward the pass. For instance, the 49ers had 36 running plays Monday night against Arizona. Raye said his ideal was 28-32.

The reason, Raye said, is that his offensive personnel has changed dramatically with the substitution of Alex Smith for Shaun Hill, the addition of Michael Crabtree and the continued emergence of Vernon Davis and Josh Morgan. "I think it tilts the scale a little bit the other way - that's the proportional balance you're striving for," he said.

Finally, Raye was asked about personnel groupings. Last year, it seemed like Mike Martz would send a new group of players onto the field on every down. Raye, meanwhile, keeps the same group on the filed on first and second downs. That has led to accusations that his play calling is too predictable.

Raye said he wants that offensive variability to come with the players themselves. Tight end Delanie Walker, for instance, is a good receiver who also can run block. Theoretically, when he's in the game, defenses won't know whether the 49ers are running or passing. One of the problems, Raye said, is that another multi-talented players on the roster, Michael Robinson, has been hurt.

The hope was that Robinson could be the same sort of hybrid player in 21 packages (two running backs, one tight end) as Walker is in 12 packages (one running back, two tight ends). "It allows the 21 package to be just as fluid as the other package," he said. With Robinson dealing with a pesky stinger (shoulder) injury this season, the team's 21 package has relied on fullback Moran Norris, who is not as multi-dimensional.

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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